In Conversation with

Simon Ingold

Simon Ingold began working for Siegfried in August 2017, initially as an external consultant for strategic finance projects, and since December 2017 as Global Head FP&A (Financial Planning & Analysis).

How did you settle in at Siegfried? What is your interim balance after the first months?

The first four months I worked in an external function for strategic finance projects and, with effect from 1 December 2017, took on a line function in the finance team. As I worked in the financial industry my entire professional life, and thus in a service environment, the production setting at Siegfried represented a new world. I experienced a precipitous learning curve and quickly developed an understanding of processes, value chains and terminology. Thanks to my pivotal function, I gained an overview of the company in a relatively short period of time. As a result, my first months at Siegfried were very instructive and varied, and so much has happened. 

What is your exact function and what are your responsibilities?

As Global Head FP&A, my function is both local and a global. My team in Zofingen consists of two employees and, currently, we enjoy the additional support of a trainee. Broadly speaking, I am responsible for two areas:

1. Analysis of financial and operational data including their processing to serve as a basis for decision making by management. 

2. Planning, in other words, a future-­oriented view. It comprises medium-term planning, annual budgets, target setting, and investment planning. Here, financial issues, production and HR topics work together as the perfect whole reflected in the annual results.

Moreover, we hold responsibility for certain modules in SAP. In this regard, we secure data integrity, but also take care of mapping and data processing for all sites in a condensed form by means of the management information system (MIS). This serves as a foundation for internal management reporting to the ExeCom and the Board of Directors. 

«I most enjoy working on strategic projects that ­generate direct added value for the company. I enjoy identifying potential for improvement by which I’d like to elevate our function to a higher level.»

 

Do you have a typical workday? 

There are various returning tasks and fixed points like, especially, annual planning and various periodic declarations. We also take care of strategic projects and process improvements on our platform. In principle, we aim to increasingly reduce routine and to automate work to provide more time for future-oriented issues that bring direct added value. Our aim is to focus increasingly on data analysis and interpretation from which we can deduce concrete guidelines. 

In addition, as internal service providers and business partners, we provide help in strategy implementation and in operational daily business. Since our tasks extend far into operational business, there are many interfaces and new points of contact which make our work varied and challenging. 

What is your favorite activity? 

I most enjoy working on strategic projects that generate direct added value for the company. I enjoy identifying potential for improvement by which I’d like to elevate our function to a higher level. Our aim is to implement continual improvement, such as developing and introducing group-wide operational controlling.

How did your professional career develop? What was your previous employment experience?

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of St. Gallen, I continued studying at Yale University in the USA and graduated with a master’s degree. Subsequently, I worked for a New York financial boutique before returning to Switzerland at the time of the financial crisis. I subsequently worked for several years in asset management for Horizon21 and in investment banking at Nomura Bank. My next job was with Lonrho, where I held responsibility for infrastructure investment in Africa. Subsequently, I joined Siegfried .

What are the similarities and differences between your present field of activity and your earlier ones?

Although the industry I work in now is new to me, the challenges have remained the same. We need the same capabilities to support a company’s progress. Both, my present field and my earlier ones, require analytical thinking, an understanding of processes and common sense because, after all, we deal with commercial organizations with an obligation toward shareholders. It is important to set our focus correctly and to identify the most important levers that are of significance to success. I think it is very important to never lose sight of the big picture.

What about Siegfried appeals to you?

The appeal to me lies in learning something new and taking on an intellectual challenge by gaining understanding of new processes and a new logic. I want to make things happen in my job and, as a so-called outsider, to contribute innovative solutions from another field and transfer best-practice solutions into a new context. Consequently, a function or role always has to be reconsidered and re-evaluated.

Who is the private Simon Ingold? What are your hobbies?

I am married and the father of a son born in April this year. We live in the city of Zurich. My interests are varied; in my leisure time I enjoy addressing cultural, political and economic topics. I read a lot, I’m a movie freak, and I enjoy visiting art exhibitions. Moreover, I enjoy listening to various kinds of music. One of my passions is writing; I used to work as a part-time journalist for Zurich-based newspapers like the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Schweizer Monat, Finanz & Wirtschaft and Cash. I keep track of my experiences, thoughts, observations and ideas by writing them down with the ultimate aim of one day processing them in a creative sense. 

It is important for me to remain in close contact with my close circle of friends. Furthermore, I enjoy jogging, because it gives me the time and peace of mind to reflect about this and that. 

Do you have any lifelong dreams that you would like to fulfil?

I would like my life and my work to leave a mark, or to create something that bears my signature. Various forms are possible. My aim is to create the necessary preconditions for implementation. This requires dedication, discipline, a positive work environment, and a bit of luck. I have the necessary confidence.  

What is your life motto? 

I would like to maintain a spirit of openness and flexibility and preserve my curiosity and interest in things. Moreover, I would like to keep on challenging myself; I am not afraid of change, I seek it actively. Should this no longer be the case, I’d have to change something. I am not primarily interested in stability, but would like to keep a free leg next to my support leg, one that is happy to experiment, to take risks, and is innovative and wild. 

What was the greatest gift or the best moment in your life? 

That was the birth of my son Theo. The intensive experience with him stimulates self-reflection and lets me experience my relationship with my parents anew.